“The wise old owl”. That’s how most of us think of these nocturnal birds of prey. The link between owls and wisdom most likely began with their association with Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Athena was often depicted holding an owl. In reality, owls have a relatively small brain, and the geese, crows and ravens are considered smarter birds. Nonetheless, they are a symbol of wisdom to us.
We could all use some “wise old owls” in our lives. We have been discussing the topic of LEVERAGE this past month and what kind of things can be leveraged in our lives to help us become better leaders. I believe one of the most important things we need to leverage is the WISDOM OF OLDER, SEASONED LEADERS in our lives. They are all around us in different shapes and forms if we make it a priority to look for them. There’s a reason the book of wisdom, Proverbs, says… “The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.” (Proverbs 20:29)
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “You don’t know what you don’t know”? Younger men have strength and boundless energy, but lack the experience to handle many of the leadership challenges that face them. Having an older leadership mentor in your life leverages their EXPERIENCES (both successes and failures) and allows you to learn the wisdom they have gained having gone through them so that you can experience more successes than failures in your own leadership. The nation of Israel was split in two about 3,000 years ago because a young king named Rehoboam listened to his young buddies and refused to listen to the wise older men that had served his father (King Solomon). It circumvented his leadership and the nation was never the same afterwards.
I hate to admit it, but for many years, in my youthful pride, I never really made it a priority to find older, wiser mentors in my life. It wasn’t until I experienced some leadership failure that I finally figured out how much wisdom I was refusing to leverage in my leadership.
120 years and 12,000 people. Those numbers represent the three “wise old owls” I now meet with on a regular basis. As a pastor, I turn to these three older pastors for wisdom. They have 120 years experience between them and they lead ministers that total 12,000 people. I still make mistakes as a leader but I’d like to believe that I make a lot less of them because of these men. It’s my hope and prayer that I too will earn the right some day to be a “wise old owl” for someone else.
How about you? Are you a young leader that needs to prioritize finding older and wiser mentors in your life? Or perhaps you’re an older person who thinks you don’t have anything left to offer. You couldn’t be more wrong. Leverage your wisdom and experience to the next generation! Imagine how incredible your organization can be when you leverage the strength and energy of the young with the experience and wisdom of the old!
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